The Slaugham Archives

High Beeches
The Slaugham Archive
High Beeches

During WWII in 1943 a Canadian Halifax bomber returning from a leaflet raid over Stuttgart crashed on High Beeches house killing the cook and two other staff. One suffered a heart attack, one was crushed by a falling chimney stack, and one died in hospital.
The crew bailed out and survived but they were arrested at Tilgate by the Home Guard on suspicion of being foreign agents.
The house burned for ten days and was finally demolished in 1967. The present owners have built a replacement house close by using much of the stone from the earlier house.

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Picture added on 28 January 2012 at 20:40
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High Beeches
The Halifax bomber crashed on 12th March 1943 and a Crashed Aircraft Report was completed by PC Steve Message from the Handcross police station. Click on Open Document above to view the report.
It is interesting to note that even without modern technology the news was transmitted very swiftly. The plane crashed at 0206 hours, the police were informed at 0210 hours, and RAF Tangmere at 0220 hours.
It became airborne from RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire at 1915 hours on 11th March 1943, and therefore the flight lasted 6 hours 51 minutes. One can only imagine the crew’s immense relief to land safely on the Tilgate Estate after been badly damaged in the flak over Germany.
Although it states there was a crew of eight, I can only find the names of seven, being F/Sgt T Gallantry, Sgt Middleton, Sgt Webster, Sgt Myers, Sgt Exton, Sgt Whitmore and F/Sgt Farrer.
It’s quite a long shot, but does anyone know the names of the staff that lost their lives in the incident? I think they deserve to be remembered.

Added by Barry Ray on 04 November 2012
Such a tragedy. The pilot had successfuly turned the stricken plane around to avoid an urban area and it clipped a sweet chestnut bringing it down on to High Beeches. The tree survived topless for many years; the plane could have carried on down towards Staplefield.
Added by Arthur Shopland on 04 November 2012
My grandfather, Frederick "Bob" Stoner, was a night watchman at High Beeches during the war and, so the story goes, he rescued "old" Mrs Loder by throwing her over his shoulder and carrying her out.
For this brave feat he received an appropriately engraved gold watch which, sadly, I never ever saw and have no idea where it is now.
Added by Brenda Ball (née Stoner) on 05 March 2013
I recently visited High Beeches and the information they give there is that the plane didn't crash onto the house but merely 'clipped' the top of the chimney stack causing it to fall and set light to the house.
Also, if you see the modern replacement house it is not built of stone from the old house but of modern brick. The old house was only eventually demolished on the death of Mr Loder in 1967 as he couldn't bear to see it totally removed.
Added by Al on 01 April 2013
This was a bit more than a 'leaflet' raid being the fourth major operation during the Battle of the Ruhr involving 314 bombers, including 109 Halifaxes.
Also, 76 Squadron was not a Canadian Squadron although the WOp was Canadian - Flying Officer McClure.
Added by Clive Smith on 01 January 2015
According to the book 'Bombers Over Sussex', by Pat Burgess and Andy Saunders, "Three domestic staff, Bertha Edwards, Grace Stratton and Lizzie Jane Williams were all killed as they slept upstairs in their quarters."
They were all unmarried and were aged 73, 47, and 63, respectively.
With this information it has been possible to find their deaths recorded in the registers of WWII Civilian Deaths. Click on Large Version to view the relevant page.
This answers the query above dated 4th November 2012.
Added by Clive Smith on 09 February 2015
My mother, Josephine (Jo) Osgood, was a maid at High Beeches at the time of the crash. She was just fifteen.
I would appreciate hearing from anyone who may have further information on her from that time.
Added by Heidi Stone on 14 October 2016
My father, Pat Tester, was part of the fire crew that attended the fire.

Added by Rex Tester on 21 April 2017
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